CAMPAIGN NINTH, 1710.
Colonel Blackader in garrisoin—Overtures for Peace—Remarks on their
failure—Campaign—French Lines carried—Siege of Douay
—Letters—Reduction of Douay—Defeat of a British Convoy— Surrender of
St. Venant and Aire.
The three months which the Colonel
passed in Ghent, previous to the regiment’s leaving that garrison,
were spent very agreeably, but without any remarkable occurrence. He
was much in society, which he found here to be more gay, and less
edifying than what he had been accustomed to at Rotterdam, and seems
occasionally to have mingled in the fashionable amusements of the
place; not however without regret, and reflections on his mispent
January 31. The day soberly spent; but in the evening I went to hear
a famous musician, where I was kept too late, and neglected better
exercise. This made me somewhat uneasy; but I bless God that he
keeps me from falling often into these snares.
While in garrison he had several occasions to sit in the
court-martial. This was always a melancholy duty.
He expresses the greatest anxiety to judge righteous judgment, and
if possible, to temper justice with mercy.
February 14. In a court-martial all the afternoon, and I hope well
directed in judgment. I sought light and guidance, for indeed in
many cases we know not the right side from the wrong. O that my
sentence may be such as thou dost approve, and such as would come
from thy righteous tribunal of equity!
March 15. This day is appointed to he kept by our garrison, as it is
in England, for' fasting and humiliation. I was in a serious
composed frame, relying upon God for strength, courage, and every
thing else that I need to furnish me out for a new campaign.
March 23. We had expectations of a peace; but these hopes grow less.
Busy all the forenoon, in going up and down among our Generals. I
trust it shall be well with me, peace or war; and that God will turn
all to his own glory.
March 27. In company most part of the day. Now my time of hurry
begins again to disturb the quiet and peaceable life I have had all
winter. Lord, fit me for launching out into new storms.—I go to this
campaign, upon the one side weary of the war, (woes me that I am
forced to dwell so long in the tents of wickedness; Lord, scatter
those that delight in war.) But on the other side, I go out
cheerfully, trusting in God, hoping to see him arise and scatter his
enemies, and do great tilings.
In the campaign of this year, the Allies still continued to have the
advantage, although it was not so distinguished as the last, either
in the importance, or in the variety of its events. Overtures of
peace were again renewed by France with larger concessions, and
greater sincerity than ever; and it appeared she was really anxious
to put a period to that expensive warfare which had exhausted her
treasury, and desolated her provinces. The offers of Louis went much
farther than any he had made in his former conferences, and
approached so near to the demands of the Confederates, that a single
article formed the only exception.
The advantages he was willing to forego, discover the necessitous
abasement into which he had sunk, and form a striking contrast to
the domineering language and lofty pretensions which he arrogated to
himself, in the meridian of his grandeur. They leave little room to
doubt the sincerity of his professions. The exhausted state of his
finances,—the miseries of his Subjects, and the universal
wretchedness of the country, are evidence enough that his overtures
flowed from a genuine solicitude for terminating hostilities.
There is too much reason to believe that artifice and duplicity had
changed sides. The general conduct of the deputies and
plenipotentiaries of the Allies shewed they had no anxiety, perhaps
no intention of coming to any agreement or accommodation with the
French Court. They studied rather by their ambiguity and indecision
to throw difficulties in the way, to perplex and entangle the
proceedings. Marlborough and Prince Eugene were paramount in the
Confederate Assembly, and their views and sentiments were implicitly
adopted. To these the continuation of war was essentially
beneficial, both in point of character and emolument. It was only in
the field of battle, where Prince Eugene was most calculated to
shine, that he /could hope to maintain his reputation and his
importance. The cessation of arms, it was evident, would not only
strip the Duke of a great part of his military revenue, but
terminate his despotic sway in the English Cabinet;—since his
supporters were daily declining in the royal favour, and could only
hope to retain their offices so long as his services were deemed
essential to the country. The rejection of peace, whatever party
writers may have said on the subject, if candidly considered, will
be attributed, not to the insincerity of Louis, but to the
interested views of those who had manifest advantages to reap from
the protraction of the war.
But however enormous may be the guilt of those who shed innocent
blood for the purposes of ambition and aggrandisement—who seek
merely to gratify their own avarice, under the pretext of humbling a
rival power, or providing for the national security; that guilt must
be charged, not on those who are the dupes of their artifice, or the
unconscious instruments of their designs, but on those who
misinformed and misled them. Though the war. must now be regarded as
conducted upon different principles from those of necessity, or even
those motives from which it was undertaken, there is no evidence in
the subsequent papers to shew that the Writer of the Diary was
apprised of this alteration, or that he had changed his original
persuasion of the sacred justice of the cause in which he had been
so long engaged. The intrigues and mercenary arts of statesmen came
not within the scope of his observation or intelligence. These are
the discovery of subsequent investigation, being hid from the eyes
of contemporaries by the false glosses of party writers, or
varnished over with the colouring of truth, by the advocates and
partisans of the existing administration.
The negotiations for peace did not suspend or retard the operations
of the campaign. Forage and other necessaries were provided, and on
the 15th of April, the troops from the garrisons of Flanders and
Brabant were ordered to march for Toumay, the place of rendezvous.
Then1 first exploit was the successful attack of the French lines on
the Dyle. Tins was followed by the surrender of Douay, after an
obstinate siege. Bethune, St. Venant, and Aire were afterwards
reduced; and with these conquests, the transactions of the year
April 2. Sabbath. Obliged by the hurry of having to march to-morrow,
to be about things foreign to a Sabbath. O Lord pity and pardon. Now
I must launch out again into new difficulties and confusions. I put
my confidence in thee alone. I bless thee that I am not given up to
melancholy, despondency or anxious fears, as I have sometimes too
much been. I go out in thy name, and thy presence must go with me. I
cast all my care upon thee. Furnish me out in this new post
according to the occasions of it, and the service thou callest for.
I bless thee for the mercies of the winter, and leave my dear
concern upon thy care.
April 3. This day we marched out of garrison. O Lord, get glory to
thyself, and go forth at the head of our army as the Captain of our
host, and let thine enemies be scattered. Direct and guide me, and
those under my charge. I put myself and them under thy protection.
April 4—8. Marching every day. We made a movement this day by a
mistake, for though the army marched, we, having the artillery, were
not to have moved.
April 9. Sabbath. Lying at arms from morning till two o’clock, ready
to march. I retired as much as I could for prayer and reading;
applying several promises with comfort and joy, both for myself and
the public, Deut. xxxii. to the xliii. Josh. i. 9. v. 13, 14* Isaiah
ii. 11. 17. 19. iii. 10. v. 4, 5, 6. viii. 9. 10. I trust God shall
do great things this campaign, arid be exalted in the earth, and
work salvation and deliverance to his church and people. We marched
at three o’clock, and marched all night with a design, as we hear,
to attack the French lines to-morrow.
April 10. This morning wre got within an hour of the lines; but we
hear the French have quitted them and retired. Last year these lines
were a bug-bear to us; we durst not go near them. God’s time was not
come then. Now he has given us them without stroke of sword. This is
the doing of the Lord, and should be wonderful in our eyes. When I
saw the pass and bridge where we were to have attacked them, I could
not but admire his goodness; for it was so strong a morass, that we
could hardly have made a-head to attack it. But lie sent a terror
and consternation among our enemies, that made them quit them. I
hope this is a presage of more and greater successes to follow. Lord
make us humble, and let there be no vain-boast-ing among us, in
trusting to an arm of flesh.
In a letter to his Lady, which appears to he the flrst this
campaign, the taking of the lines and some other particulars are
Lens, April 10.
Now I begin my old employment again, and indeed it is one of the
most agreeable that I have in the camp, that of writing to you, and
receiving your letters. I bless the Lord all has gone very well
since we came out; Providence lets no troublesome or cross accidents
come in our way. The weather has also mightily favoured us, and we
are all hearty. The army assembled between Lisle and Tournay; and
the garrison of Courtray has joined us. We have begun the campaign
well, blessed be God; for St. Amand and Mortaign, two considerable
forts, are taken we hear. This is a good omen. I am glad I can now
give you better news, for it has pleased God we have passed the
French lines this morning, in several plaices, without the least
opposition. The boors here tell us the French are in no condition to
oppose us; their army is not assembled. The Lord works far above,
and contrary to man’s expectations. We marched all day yesterday,
and all night, from near Tournay; there were several attacks to be
made if the enemy had stood.
Our regiment has been upon the artillery these four days, and this
keeps me in constant hurry. I can tell yet nothing what we are to
do; but trust God cheerfully. I hope, by his blessing, this campaign
shall prove so much to the advantage of the common cause, as to
procure us such a happy peace as has hitherto been unattainable. I
never know about the plenipotentiaries, nor what they are doing;
perhaps peace will come another way. And now that they have put us
to the trouble of coming out to the camp, we ought to push the war
with vigour; and appealing to the great decision of lieaven, say
with Jephthah, The Lord the judge, be judge this day between us and
our enemies. I have had very good accommodation every night. The
pillow of my camp-matress was forgot; hut I made a very good shift
without it; I took a bundle of hay, which did even as well; so do
not scold the servant about it. I bless the Lord I am very easy, and
no way anxious about events; I commit myself and all my concerns to
him who does every thing well for me. His blessing and peace rest
with you. I am thine. - J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Madam Penieman, St. Michael, a Gand.
April 11. We have still the guard of the artillery. Another instance
of the goodness of God to us, for we expected the French, who had
retired behind the river Scarp, would make a stand and defend the
river; hut upon the appearance of the front of our army, they
quitted that too, and retired farther into the country; by which we
have free access to besiege Douay. We marched on and encamped near
it. This town is a nest of rogues of Jesuits, and seminaries of
idolatry. It would he but a just judgment to set it on a flame.
April 12. This day we came off the guard of the artillery and joined
the army, which made a movement nearer the town.
April 19. Here I have good accommodation, a quiet cottage in the
midst of a wicked army, where I can retire and hold communion and
fellowship with God. My neighbours here envy me this poor cottage,
but they are not permitted to wrong me. Who shall harm you if you be
followers of that which is good? I bless God for my peace and
quietness: here I have just as much business as diverts me, not so
much as to be troublesome.
April 20. A new instance of the Lord’s goodness to us in
disappointing our expectations of going upon this siege. We laid our
account with it; but other regiments have been brought out of the
This was only a temporary respite; for they were shortly after
ordered to the siege as a substitute for one of the other regiments.
Near Douay, April 24.
The regiments are now named and gone to the siege, and Providence
has yet spared us. There are seven gone, and it stopt just at ours;
and now we are the first. I take it from the hand of God as a mercy
and a kind dispensation, come after what will; and when he does send
us any such errand, I trust it will be in mercy also, and to give us
more signal experiences of his goodness to us. We broke ground
yesternight at this town, and it is hoped the siege will not be
tedious. It is probable Colonel Preston may arrive at Ghent this
week, or Major Aikman with our recruits; they are about 85 in
number, and were to sail upon the 10th.
I bless the Lord I was never better in health. I am about half a
mile from the regiment, and walk up twice a-day, and return at
night. I regret I had not brought Dr. Tillotson’s sermons with me,
for I have no good books here to read. The Lord’s peace be with you.
Madam Blackader, chez Madam Penieman,
St. Michael, a Gand.
April 25. I trust we shall see the tyrant of France humbled and
mortified in another manner than we have yet seen. I only wish we
had a fair and full stroke at them. At the two last battles of
Tainiers and Oudenard we were held back, as by a chain, from
pursuing them. But the day of their calamity is at hand. The Lord
can open to us a wide and effectual door into France through this
town, that no man shall be able to shut it. We have begun our
approaches and are raising our batteries.
April 27. Yesternight the enemy made a sally out of the town, and
one of our regiments (Sutton’s) gave way; most part of the officers
are either killed or wounded. This in all appearance will bring our
regiment to the siege. This is the Lord’s doing, and not blind
chance. It is he who orders us, and where he sends us we will
cheerfully go. I will depend upon thee for suitable grace and
furniture, according to the posts thou puttest us upon: and this
regiment that I have the charge of, I commit the charge and
direction of it to thee. What shall we say when our regiments give
way and turn their back before the enemy? But I do not wonder at it;
for every word that our British soldiers speak is a damning of their
own blood, and impious swearing by God’s blood and wounds. It will
be no wonder to see them wallowing in their own blood and wounds.
God is just, he can work his own purposes by us, and yet lay our
carcases as dung on the face of the earth.
April 30. We have got notice this morning that we are to go upon the
May 1. This morning our regiment went into the trenches, and blessed
be God, we had a very good day, and had not a man killed or wounded,
though the enemy continued a very smart firing all night with
cannon, bombs, and small shot. O Lord, I commit, myself and all to
thee. Give me courage, strength, and conduct, as I need it. Without
thee, I find I have neither head, heart, nor hand, but through thee
I shall do valiantly. We were in the trenches all night, and came
out next morning about ten o’clock, and had only one man hurt. The
power and kind providence of the Almighty, can make the trenches or
the hottest attack of a breach to be as safe as our houses in
garrison are. The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous
flee into it and are safe. I am much fatigued by want of sleep, and
running tip and down seeing to get every thing right.
Douay, May 3.
I wrote to you yesterday, being desirous that you should hear of our
being at the siege, rather from myself than from any other hand. But
trust still in God and hope in his mercy; for we shall yet praise
him; and new trials shall produce new deliverances. Every campaign
adds new links to that long golden chain of our rich experiences.
Let us he always found in the way of duty. We were very lucky in the
trenches yesterday, for we had not a man hurt all the time; only in
the coming out Serjeant Allan got a shot somewhat like mine at
Hochstet. We go in on Friday or Saturday next, and all I hope shall
go well. Our regiment having marched into the besieging army,
Sutton’s has taken our post in the line. Our batteries begin
to-morrow, and it is hoped the siege will not he long.
I shall not fail to make you easy by writing as frequently as I can,
especially when we come out of the trenches. You should think us
well out of the covering army, for the French give out that they
will come and relieve the town. You have no reason to he alarmed
about us, for though that misfortune happened to our predecessors,
yet we that come in their place are in no more danger that way, than
any of the forty battalions that are here; and, indeed, now our
trenches and works are so advanced, that the French cannot now make
any sorties as they did at the beginning. Providence disposes of us
and of our lot as is best for us; times of thoughtfulness and a rod
above our heads, are much better than a constant tract of sunshine.
Our natures and our graces do require a sharp winter as well as a
warm summer, to nip and kill our corruptions and lusts, which
otherwise would spoil and quite eat out all the power of religion
and grace. I am altogether persuaded of this, and therefore bless
God for my lot, that I am obliged to a life of faith, and a humble
needy dependence upon a complete Saviour; for it is a wonder to see,
when we are without rods and crosses, how dead, careless, and
unwatchful we grow; our hearts how vain, earthly, and light. The
Lord’s peace and blessing be with you. I am thine. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Madam Penieman,
St. Michael, a Gand.
May 4. We have lost four or five men last night in the trenches. I
bless God for the rest and sleep I had after my fatigue.
May 5. This morning went into the trenches again, and got one of the
best posts there for safety from the cannon and bombs of the town. I
desire to observe all to the praise of God’s mercy and goodness. The
weather is good; and we had not a man hurt all this day.
May 6. This day is one of the greatest Ebenezers of my life. In the
morning the French made a sally from the town upon that post where
our regiment was. It was a little before break of day. They came on
silently, expecting to surprise us; hut by the goodness of
Providence we were ready. Our sentinels gave us warning, and we put
ourselves in a posture, and received them so warmly, that they
immediately retired in confusion without firing a shot. It is
observable that it was so ordered, that this second sally of theirs
should happen to be only upon, us, who were brought in to relieve
that regiment upon whom the enemy fell at the first sortie, and
used, so ill. Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name be the
praise and glory. It was thou who madest our enemies faintly to turn
their hacks without attacking us,—for if they had attacked us
briskly, we have, no reason to believe, as to our own behaviour,
courage, or conduct, hut that there would have been as had an
account of us, as of those who were there before us. For, indeed, I
did see among .several of our soldiers manifest signs of fear and
confusion ; but the goodness of God hides our failings; and not only
so, hut makes those actions, which our own hearts know to he mixed
with great weakness, to turn to our honour and reputation. I have
often observed this since I have been a soldier, and now it holds
good as to me and the regiment, that our actions, though in
themselves not worth a button—no better than other peoples—yea not
so good—oftentimes more weakness and defects; yet God is sometimes
pleased so to distinguish them with such circumstances of
reputation, and to place them in such a light, as gives them a
peculiar lustre in the eyes of the world. I am sure this should make
us humble and thankful. I acknowledge for my own part, if the Lord,
by his grace, did not very powerfully supply and furnish me with
courage and fortitude, I would behave very ill. I would have neither
heart nor hand. I am not ashamed to own that I have no fund of my
own, neither courage, nor wisdom, nor conduct, but what I get from
God. I find him in straits a present aid; he gives most liberally
and abundantly as occasions require. Therefore I shall rejoice in my
own emptiness, and weakness, and fear, because it leads me to an
infinite inexhaustible fountain and magazine of all sorts of
spiritual supplies. I shall be distrustful of myself; but in God I
will boast all the day long, He makes true my motto to me every day,
Deus fortitudo meet.
May 7. Sabbath. I bless God for sleep and sweet rest after fatigue.
The most of the world, by not knowing the want of them, do not enjoy
the pleasures of the most common mercies. Many poor soldiers at this
siege are exposed night and day to fatigue and danger, and get not
sleep one night in a week.
May 8. Serious through this day, and seeking new supplies. This is a
thoughtful time; many poor souls are hurried into eternity every
night at this town, where bombs, cannon and musket bullets are
flying like hail-s tones all the night over. ,
May 10. Our regiment went again into the trenches this morning. Our
post was not so exposed to sorties as the last; but more to the
bombs, &c. and most to our own, which, falling short of the town,
did incommode us; but we had no loss. The British this night got
several things to humble them. There was 100 grenadiers commanded
out to sustain the workmen that were to go out and make a lodgment
on the other side of the avant-fosse. The French came out with a
great noise, perhaps but a small number, and they all gave way, and
quitted the lodgment; several being killed and wounded.
May 12. This night I had the command in the trenches, to sustain the
workmen to make up that same lodgment. Our workmen were in great
disorder this night also, and did not do their duty as they ought. I
could not help it. There was hot firing all night; I came off at
sun-rising, and had some rest. We have made a lodgment on the other
side of the fosse.
On this subject he remarks in a letter to his wife, “I find the
command far less troublesome when the regiment is in, than with the
workers; there is always a great deal of confusion at any business
of that nature, in the night; and so it was yesternight. We were to
make up the lodgment on the other side of the outer fosse, which we
had been put from the night before; and indeed our workmen did their
business very ill, for the French came out several times with great
noise on purpose to frighten the workmen; and it had the effect, for
they ran away so that it was impossible to get the third part of
them kept together. However there was a lodgment made. These
commands are exceedingly troublesome, because of the vexation it
gives an officer when his men do not do their duty.”
In another letter, dated the 14th, he observes, “ Our siege goes on
well; somewhat more slowly than at the beginning. We are now near
the counterscarp. The covering army marched yesterday, advancing a
little way to the front to meet Marshal Villars, in case he have a
mind to come and pay them a visit, which most believe he will not.
We are to be in the trenches to-morrow; we go there every fifth
day.—We expect our recruits on Tuesday or Wednesday; if they came
away on Saturday, they may be useful to us yet this siege.”
May 15. Our regiment marched into the trenches this morning. We had
a good day. Providence is favourable to us; we were bombarded pretty
smartly from the town, yet by the goodness of God, we had very
little loss. As for myself I see distinguishing marks of his favour
May 16. We came out this morning. The firing from cannon, bombs, and
small shot continued on us all night. We hear the French army were
upon their march yesterday to Arras. They and our army were encamped
pretty near each other last night. There are four regiments to he
sent for from the siege, in case they come to attack us; and it is
said ours will he one.
May 17. This day the enemy being in motion towards us we expect a
battle to-morrow. All my hope and comfort is, that the Lord of Hosts
is on our side, and when he is the General of the army, what have we
Tuesday, May 16.
We are come from the trenches this morning; and blessed be God all
well. Hitherto, the days that the regiment has been in the trenches,
are the best and safest. We have less loss then than when
detachments go to work. The siege goes on well enough, though
perhaps not so quick as the people in the coffee-houses imagine it
should do. We are now sapping and mining close to the pallisades of
the counterscarp. The imperial attack is not quite so far advanced
yet, and both must be carried on together. My dearest, trust still
in God, and possess your soul in patience, living by faith. For
there would be no occasion for faith, nay there would be no such
thing as faith, if Ave had all our wishes and desires accomplished
just in the very way and time that we carve out to ourselves. But
these various dispensations of Providence do bring forth the
peaceable fruits of righteousness to those that are exercised
Our covering army moved three days ago to take up their post in the
line of battle; and we hear that the French army were upon their
march towards Arras. It is altogether uncertain (to me at least it
is) whether they have a mind to come and offer battle to our army or
not: Most believe they will not. In case they do, four of the
British Regiments here are to join the army; what four it may he I
cannot tell you. All things are to be left to the disposal of
Providence; we cannot do better.
We expected our recruits to he here this day, and that they would
have made greater haste, considering our circumstances here. The
Colonel is not very well pleased about it, for there are between
forty or fifty of our regiment killed and wounded already. I wrote
you the day after we came out of the trenches, and after I had been
there on command next night. It is true that our workmen were
frightened from their work several times, but the work was done at
last; and now most of our labour is sapping, which is a sure and a
slow work; and therefore do not grudge the siege lasting eight or
ten days longer. The saving of men will recompense the loss of time,
though we will still be losing men every day at working. My service
to all friends. Thine, &c. . J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Madam Penieman,
St. Michael, a Gand.
May 19. This day the enemy advanced towards us. There are four
regiments sent for from the siege, whereof ours is one. We marched
up to the army in the evening, and were put into one of the
intrenchments which are cast up along the line. It is expected they
will attack us to-morrow.
May 20. Our army wrought all night intrenching themselves. The enemy
do not think fit to attack us in this post. Our four regiments were
sent hack to the siege, and we marched straight into the trenches. I
was detached upon command into the sap, to command the grenadiers
and those who were to fire all night. I was surprised at this,
because I was not near command; hut it was the pure decision of
Providence, being done by lot; so I went cheerfully, being assured
that it was not blind chance, but God who sent me there. I was. very
well carried through, for he lets me see that the hottest post at
the siege, is as safe as my own chamber. I see also that he sends me
upon these posts, on purpose to make me an instance and monument of
his goodness,—of his protecting, defending, and delivering mercy,
and to put new songs of praise in my mouth; new links added to that
golden chain of sweet experiences. ... .
We had an alarm in the night from a magazine of the enemy’s grenades
blowing up on the counterscarp, which we took to be a sortie. We had
no harm by it, though it was hard by us. Thou shalt not he afraid of
the terrors by night. Going through the saps and bridges where the
bombs, small-shot, and grenades were flying pretty thick; I believed
I was even as safe there, under the protection of God, as if I had
been at home. Thou art my shield and buckler. I shall never
attribute my deliverances to blind destiny.
May 21. In the morning I came off the advanced post, and joined the
regiment in the trenches; we had a good night, only one man killed
by a bomb. Sabbath. This is two nights we have been at arms. I came
home, lay down and slept from ten till two o’clock. I bless God who
gives me rest after fatigue, and sleep after long watching. I was
sent for to sup abroad, where we had much idle conversation. Lord,
cleanse my soul from the filth and sin I contract in evil company. I
endeavoured also to testify my dislike at vice, and abominable
things, as they came to be the subject of conversation.'
May 23.- Unwell and feverish. I sent for a sur-' geon, and took
blood, and grew better. I was preparing for my post, but the Colonel
would not permit me to go into the trenches with the regiment,
because the night air might do me hurt.
By this temporary malady, he probably made an escape from an
unforeseen danger; for, as it appears in the following letter, an
accident happened, by the blowing up of some grenades, which killed
or hurt several of his men,
Wednesday, May 24.
There is nothing extraordinary among us since I last wrote you. The
siege goes • slowly on. It is a very great mercy we have had such
fair weather all along, for otherwise it would have been sad working
in the trenches. There is no appearance of the enemy’s coming near
us to relieve the town.—Yesternight we had sixteen men wounded and
burnt by an accident of the blowing up of some powder and grenades.
Two of them are dead. Lieutenant Graham is hurt, and Serjeant
Davidson. We have but little loss now, except by these accidents
that cannot be foreseen.— Our regiment goes in again to the trenches
to-morrow, and I hope the Divine care and protection will be around
us as it has been. The Lord keep and preserve you. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Madam Penieman,
St. Michael, a Gand.
May 30. We went into tlie trenches again this morning. The goodness
of God puts a hedge round me; he is also gracious to the regiment in
Thursday, June 1.
We came out of the trenches yesterday, where Providence is still
kind to us, and brings us out with little loss. No doubt you are
wearying of this siege, and think it lasts very long: so are we too.
But we must be patient, and wait God’s time which is the best. Let
it he our work to profit under all these dispensations, by a true
solid Christian growth, laying aside every weight, and running with
patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus. I bless God I
am as well as ever I was in my life, as to my health, and every way
else. Providence makes me easy, and I should he very ungrateful if I
were not fully, content.
We are transacting about Brown’s commission, (the Dean of Guild’s
son.) I know not yet what he has to pay; if it he more than 500
gilders, (which I believe it will not,) I must engage for it myself
till I draw upon his father. I wrote to Colonel Cunningham the other
day, as we had a design upon Ypres lately, but it has mislucked. We
must leave it to the French to take towns by trick and treachery; we
never get any that way. We get all we win very honourably, with our
blood and the sweat of our brow.
Let me know who are kind to you, and give them thanks in my name.
That God may bless you with every rich blessing is the constant
prayer of thine.
Madam Blackader, chez Madam Penieman,
St. Michael, a Gand.
June 4. Sabbath. We went into the trenches, and Providence has been
kind to us as it hath always been. The Lord was very gracious to me
in particular, and put a new song of praise into my mouth : while I
was looking to our batteries firing, there came a musket-hall from,
the town and shot through my hat, slanting close by my head. Thou, O
Lord, coverest my head in time of danger. O make me careful to
treasure up these experiences in my heart. We came out of the
trenches next day with small loss.
June 6. This morning I was hurried out by company ere I got time for
retirement; and was led away to a place in the trenches, where we
were needlessly exposed to great and small shot from the town. I
have no peace in these needless exposings of myself. When I have a
call that it is my duty to go into danger, then I depend upon God
for suitable through-hearing. But where I have no call, I have no
such promise. Riding abroad in the afternoon I went to our hospital,
where was a melancholy sight of wounded men. May it please God in
his mercy to put an end to this tedious troublesome siege.
June 8. I went through all the imperial attack in the forenoon. In
the evening there was an attack upon the two ravelines of the town.
I went up and saw it. It was hot work for a while; but we know not
yet how it has gone. But many poor souls, no doubt, by this time are
hurried into eternity.
June 9. This morning we went into the trenches. We see that our
attack did not succeed so well as we could have wished, for we were
heat back and got not full possession of the ravelines; yet we made
a lodgment in them both. This attack has cost us dear.
Many were killed and wounded, as we may guess Tby our own regiment,
for of thirty-nine that were there, we have thirty-two killed and
wounded. I observe the goodness of God to me also on this occasion.
I was the first upon command, of the field officers of the besieging
army, yesterday when the attack was ordered ; but our regiment being
to go next day into the trenches, the custom is, that that regiment
gives no men or officers on command the night before. In this way it
missed me, and the next officer on command was taken. Whoso is wise
will consider these things, and see the loving kindness of the Lord.
I have occasions every day of observing this. I would have blessed
God also if he had sent me, for I trust he would have borne my
charges, and carried me through to the praise of his grace. The Lord
is merciful to our regiment, for we have not had a man either killed
or wounded in the trenches these twenty-four hours.
June 10. We came safe out of the trenches this morning. I went to
bed and slept till the evening, and it was well I did so, for I was
ordered in again at night with 200 grenadiers to sustain our
And here again I observe the kindness of God towards me; for about
an hour before I came into the trenches, the enemy sprung a mine
upon that rave-line where my post was to be, and overturned all our
lodgment, and killed and blew up a good many men. We soon recovered
our lodgment, and made up our works. We expected it would be a
troublesome night,’ and that the enemy would dispute every foot of
ground with us, as indeed they have hitherto done’; but we were
mercifully disappointed, for they quitted all the ravelines entirely
to us, and we had not a more quiet and peaceable night since the
siege began, for they threw not so much as a bomh or a stone all the
night. We were expecting also to have our lodgment on the left hand
blown up; hut in that also we were agreeably disappointed. O how
many mercies have I had in this siege ! new songs of praise every
day ! Lord, make me thankful, and humble, and holy.
June 11. In the evening I came off my command in the trenches. The
Lord makes the, most dangerous posts a safe habitation to me. Just
before I came out, the enemy began to throw bombs, grenades, and
stones, from the town, and all the night following have plied our
trenches very hot with these, especially stones, whereby many of our
men are wounded. The Lord restrains my enemies from doing me hurt.
Let these things sink deep into my heart, never to forget his
goodness. The Sabbath, but not spent like a Sabbath.
June 14. Resting these two days. This morning we went into the
trenches. At two o’clock they beat the chamade, and hung out a white
flag to capitulate, which was a very acceptable sight to us all; for
this has been a very toilsome, long, and bloody siege. I bless the
Lord for the bountiful supplies he has given me during the siege,
and for his protecting, preserving mercy.
June 15. They have not yet relieved us out of the trenches. We are
much fatigued by being two days in them. We hear we are to get Fort
Scarp also, which we were hardly expecting. This is a great mercy,
for it would have proved troublesome, and perhaps taken up much of
our precious time.
June 16. We were not relieved till twelve o’clock this day. We have
got possession of a post, and of the Fort also. Blessed be God who
has brought this troublesome siege at length to a happy issue.
June 18. Sabbath. The garrison of Douay marched out, and we were
under arms all day on that account. I was invited to dine with a
General, but I had rather fasted. O Lord, wash and cleanse me from
the fifth I contract among wicked men, by filthy, idle conversation.
I flee to the mercy of God in Christ, and to the blood of Christ for
repentance and remission of sin. Deliver me out of these snares.
Sanctify my soul.
June 25. Yesterday I went in to Douay and viewed all our works, and
the French works. There I erect new monuments of gratitude; for
mercy and goodness have followed me remarkably all this siege. This
day is kept by orders in our army, a thanksgiving for the reduction
of the town. None have more cause to keep it with a grateful,
cheerful heart than I have. None have experienced more signal
deliverances, or been attended with more distinguishing marks of the
Divine care. After spending the day at home, I walked again, in the
evening, to the trenches, and went through all the works where I had
been during the siege. At every post I met with fresh remembrances
and monuments of mercy.
Thus, after a siege of two months, maintained with the most
obstinate resolution and defence on the part of the garrison, the
large and well-fortified city of T)ouay surrendered. In addition to
the resistance from within, the besiegers were greatly retarded by
other obstacles, such as the difficulties of the ground, and the
menaces of Marshal Villars, who made several efforts to attack the
covering army. The garrison was reduced to nearly one-half of their
original number, but the Allies suffered much more severely, having
in killed and wounded above 8000 men. The loss of Colonel Preston’s
Regiment was comparatively small, amounting to 50 killed, and about
200 wounded. This service seems to have been the last in which the
regiment was employed this campaign. They joined the army under the
Duke of Marlborough who was marching after Villars, in the hope of
provoking him to an engagement which he declined, having retired
within his new lines near Arras, which rendered it impracticable for
the Allies either to attack him, or invest that town as they wished.
June 26. Now we are going to march again. The Lord direct us what is
next to be done. Thy presence go with us. I depend upon thee alone
come battles, or sieges, or what else thou pleasest. Being near the
French, I went to view the army close at hand, and mercifully
escaped a trap that was laid.
July 2. Sabbath, But forced to do many things foreign to a Sabbath,
by preparing for a review tomorrow. This is a sad tvay of living.
How is the mind defiled and the edge of zeal against sin blunted.
Sin becomes common and familiar. The spirit of God is forced away.
Grace withers. The heart grows hard and dead. I earnestly besought
the Lord to deliver me out of the tents of wickedness. How long
shall we hear the sound of the trumpet and the alarms of war. Woes
me that I sojourn so long amctng them. I am in a dry, barren,
thirsty land, where I want the means and influences of spiritual
communion. O that thou wouldest in mercy restore me again to tlie
tabernacles of thy grace; and let me see the beauty of the Lord, as
I have seen thee in thy sanctuary. In meditating upon the present
state of affairs, I found my temper too ready to fret and grow
melancholy, by seeing our army, which we have reason to esteem the
best ever was in this country, stopped from making progress, by an-
enemy which we flattered ourselves could not well make head against
us; and that now we are obliged to turn away from them, and march
ailother way. But in reading the Scriptures in my ordinary, I got
both reproof and instruction. The first was 1 Chron. xiii. 10. to
teach me not to be solicitously or sinfully anxious about the ark of
God: He will take care of his own ark; The second was in the 14th
chapter, 14th verse, where we may see that God sometimes takes a
plain direct way as in the 10th verse; and sometimes works by
contrary and improbable means. Providence is never at a loss, though
we may be ignorant and in the dark as to its operations. We are
patiently to follow and not to limit, or prescribe rules.
July 3. This day we were reviewed, all going well; and to-morrow we
march from the army I know not whither.
July 6. Our order for matching is countermanded, so we stay still.
July 15. Hearing from my wife that she is not well. I went to
Courtray, where my fears were prevented, for we had a comfortable
July 21. There is a report that both armies are marched in prospect
of a battle. I was somewhat uneasy that I should be here at Courtray
absent from my post.
July 24. Heard again that there is no action, nor any appearance of
August 3. This day I left Courtray, and at night came to Lisle. Next
day I returned to the camp. The weather is now stormy, and I have
lost my little cottage by the army’s removing.
August 17. We had a feu-de-joie for our victory in Spain.
August 18. I went to see Betliune, which is capitulating. The Lord
he praised for it. Let him direct us what we are to do next.
August 20. Walking in the fields in sight of the French army. I have
great boldness in praying they may be defeated. Their master is the
great supporter of Satan’s and Antichrist’s kingdom, the
plight-anchor of all that are haters of true religion and the
liberties of mankind. I live in the faith to see his power yet more
humbled, broken, and confounded.
August 21. Very much troubled and vexed with the folly and madness
of an acquaintance, who seems to be abandoned of God and left to
himself. Lord, touch his heart with a sense of his miscarriages,
stop him in the career he is now running, and reclaim him as the
prodigal son. I was serious with him, laying his duty home to his
conscience as he will answer at the great day upon his peril. May
the Lord render it effectual to him.
August 26. At court; but only to hear the news, as I had nothing to
ask. Abroad at dinner, where we drank” no more than what all the
company thought very moderate and sober, yet I thought it too much :
not that reason was disturbed thereby, but I cannot endure to have
my head the least warmed, or that coolness of thinking marred which
I would always be master of.
September 4. Left the camp yesterday and had a long journey. This
day I have again a comfortable meeting with my wife and friends.
Lord, make us thankful and give us grace to pay our vows. Let us
rejoice in thee, and in thy goodness, and let not the enjoyments of
the world steal our hearts away from thee.
September 8. We have been alarmed here all day by the enemy being
near us, apprehending that perhaps they might have a design upon
this place. But about twelve o’clock we found that their design was
upon the convoy. We went out in the afternoon with the few men that
could he spared here, to try if we could give any help, but when we
came within half an hour of the place, we were informed that the
convoy was heat, and they are burning and blowing up the ships. This
is a very great loss, and. great affront. Next day we went out to
view the field of battle, and saw a melancholy sight of near 200 men
lying drowned on the river sides. There seems to have been great
mismanagement and had behaviour in this affair. When God is not with
us, we have neither courage nor conduct.
This disastrous action took place at St. Eloy-Vive, a short distance
from Courtray. The Confederates were obliged to fetch their
provisions and ammunition from Ghent, Tournay, and Lisle. A convoy,
of forty boats, laden with powder, bombs, hay, &c., with a guard of
1200 men, commanded by Colonel Ginkel, while coming up the Lys, was
surprised and attacked by a party of the enemy about 4000 strong.
This superior force must have been more than an overmatch for the
convoy, notwithstanding the strictures of Colonel Blackader. Besides
the 200 killed, about 600 were taken prisoners, among whom was the
commander himself. Some of the boats were sunk to stop the
navigation of the river, others were blown up, and so tremendous was
the shock that the village of St. Eloy-Vive was laid in ruins; the
country for miles round was shaken, and windows broken as by an
earthquake. The Lys was diverted from its channel, and divided into
two currents. This misfortune retarded the sieges of St. Yenant and
Aire, in which the Allies were now engaged.
October 4. My time passes here very agreeably. I have good company.
May it he blest for our mutual edification. Sometimes too keen in
dispute. Lord, make me always zealous for thee and thy truth,
October 21. This morning I left Courtray, and next day came to the
camp, through eight leagues of the worst road I ever travelled j but
blessed be God we came all safe without any accident. I find all
quiet and peaceable here as when I left it, so that I hope no
inconvenience has arisen from my long absence. All this is the
goodness of God.
October 28. The weather has now become unpleasant ; aiid it is very
uncomfortable for the poor soldiers to live ftow in a camp. This
night about nine o’clock the town (Aire) began to capitulate. Lord
be blessed that we have carried it at last, after many errors and
mistakes. Providence frequently humbles us in the detail and the
execution, but it favours our undertakings in the main.
November 1. I went down to visit the town and the trenches, and saw
the French garrison march out. We have drawn lots for our garrisons,
and we are to go to Ghent.
November 4. I have to praise the Lord for bringing this campaign to
so comfortable an issue; for having preserved and protected me in
the midst of dangers and fatigues.
November 18. We arrived at Courtray, and (12th) came into garrison.